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  • Writer's pictureSylvain Lupari

ROBERT RICH: Electric Ladder (2006)

Updated: Dec 12, 2020

A pleasant surprise that will appeal to fans of Robert's music style, as well as fans of Berlin School

1 Electric Ladder 10:32

2 Shadowline 8:45

3 Poppy Fields 7:16

4 Sky Tunnel 9:05

5 Concentric 6:27

6 Aquifer 6:42

7 Never Alone 6:29

(CD/DDL 56:16) (V.F.)

(Tribal ambient, Berlin School)

I have never been too fond of Robert Rich's soundscapes, his sounds and of his compatriots of the same ilk. I always found that there was something abstract, or incomplete, about these works of ambient music.

So, it was with a form of mental laziness that I listened to his last CD that a friend lent me insistently, telling me that I should like. And he was only half wrong. The title track is breathtaking. After a very atmospheric intro, a superb minimalist rhythm rolling in a sequenced loop deploys a repetitive pace on steel guitar's laments. The ambience is very beautiful with tabla and tribal percussions which accelerate the pace on a flexible rhythm which merges perfectly with the obsessive effect of the guitar waves. A bewitching tribal atmosphere to which Robert Rich has put a lot of warmth. And this is one of the strengths of ELECTRIC LADDER. The opus gets scrolling in minimalist mode, embracing the inspirations of Steve Roach and the repetitive movements of Philip Glass. Nothing new you will tell me! But not quite. ELECTRIC LADDER renews with the warmth and sensitivity of the lively minimalist movements that made him famous. But we feel that the opus takes on a more ambient soundscape texture, with the flavor of the long desert plains of Texas, when Electric Ladder gets poured into the suave Shadowline. This one is a true beautiful track which sticks to this same repetitive structure, but with a softer rhythm, a clearer tone and a more enveloping synth. Always in the strength of a hypnotic minimalism, Poppy Fields scrolls with originality, when the acoustic tones of an accordion brush against our eardrums. Dark, Sky Tunnel surprises us with Paul Henson's big bass chords. A more obscure and agitated title. A cross between Roach and Glass. Concentric continues the nervous tribal journey to the sound spirit of Steve which attenuates on Aquifer and Never Alone, two strong ambient titles with dark soporific reflections. The charm of ELECTRIC LADDER is the sensitivity that moves us coming from the lamentations of the steel guitar in a universe of ambiences with the scent of always minimalist music structured on tribal essences.

I liked ELECTRIC LADDER. Especially with the first two titles which caress the Berlin School atmosphere. Robert Rich consolidates his hold on his very particular style by offering harmony and sensitivity on ambient passages which are imbued with a melodious vision over minimalism patterns. A pleasant surprise that will appeal to fans of the genre, as well as fans of Berlin School. A beautifully musical and poetic work ...

Sylvain Lupari (October 19th, 2006) *****

Available at Robert Rich's Bandcamp

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